G-Poppers … March 16th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop knows that nearly everybody is acquainted with the process–going out to dinner.

First, arriving at the restaurant, having the greeter seat you. And then the server comes by and sets the whole evening in motion by asking the question, “Can I get your order?”

Of course, if you are a veteran of the cuisine, you know there is an order. First comes the drink, then the salad, entree, dessert, concluding with the check and tip. Candidly, the management doesn’t like it when you get it out of order. Matter of fact, you could be corrected.

Likewise, G-Pop has realized there is an order to this journey. Perhaps we should have learned it by now but there’s so much confusion–and there are too many people who want to get dessert before their salad. So we get confused.

Just as a restaurant visit is “drink, salad, entrée, dessert and then check,” in our time on Earth, we have to discover the correct order for: me, God, people, science and animals.

Simply placing one of these pieces in the wrong position can send us awry. And by awry, G-Pop means a bewilderment which settles into our souls because something doesn’t seem right.

What should come first? There are dangers.

If you start off with God you become too religious. That soon makes you intolerant of people and sometimes even grumpy about including science in the family at all.

Those who begin the order with science often find it necessary to negate a Creator, and over the years may grow weary with people, ending up giving the bulk of their charity to animal rights organizations.

Should we begin with people? That can be a real mouse trap–especially when people act like rats.

How about if we just negate the whole mess and dedicate our lives to animals? They may be cute but they are still beasts, because they bite–sometimes when you least expect it.

So just as a journey to your local bistro is an adventure requiring some basic understanding, being a quality human being certainly means you need to be able to answer the question, “Can I take your order?”

What is your order? G-Pop is curious.

When considering “me” (yourself), God, people, science (Mother Nature) and animals, what sequence works for you?

The choices you make and the order they’re in determine the abundance of your heart–and therefore control your speech and interaction with others.

G-Pop would love to hear from some of his children on this subject. Rather than rattling on about it this week, he’ll wait and see what people have to say.

So in closing, from G-Pop: Can I take your order, please?

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3 Things… January 11th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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To Keep in Mind When Offering Your Opinion

1. Be clear and concise. Begin your statement with, “My personal discovery is …”

 

2. Be brief. If any information you give exceeds thirty seconds, you better be paying your listeners.

 

3. Be prepared for challenge by ending your speech suggesting a possible point of disagreement to your idea. It comes across humble and also might allow you to steer the direction of the conversation.

 

 

 

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Two Speeches (not from the stump) … September 23, 2012

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I don’t agree.

Political parties and pundits tend to aggravate some little open wound in my soul which refuses to heal, becoming calloused to the bizarre. I guess the popular thinking is that a certain amount of lying, cheating, attacking, fussing and maneuvering of truth is necessary to win an election. I not only disagree with this premise, but I wonder if anyone has actually ever tried to utilize the facts faithfully to a conclusion before giving up early in the pursuit to strike back over a recent smarting smack.

What I will share with you today are two speeches–one from each of the men running for President of the United States. These discourses don’t actually exist, of course. They are what I feel each individual candidate might want to express if he was intent on winning the job on both merit and humility. I will begin with the incumbent:

My name is Barack Obama. I would like to continue being your President. I guess, in a manner of speaking, you could say that I won the job four years ago. I have learned that there is a difference between winning and succeeding. I was not ready for all the surprises. No one can be prepared–because, dear folks, there is a world of problems out there in what we call the world. It is impossible to understand that in entirety until you actually get in the position where you need to make decisions that affect the lives of millions. But I have learned. May I tell you this–it is not easy to learn. You are tempted to explain your mishaps and trumpet your victories. Here is an assessment: some of my decisions were good. Others are still working out. Some of my choices, though, didn’t completely address the need. Once again–learning. To be President of the United States, in my opinion, means you have to know the difference among those three conclusions. I will tell you, after four years, I understand so much better what is going to be effective and what is a waste of energy. So let me tell you what I would like to do, should you grant me four more years:

1. Abandon all bad choices and pursue the path that is fruitful.

2. Listen to all people who actually want to help the country, no matter what affiliation or what party.

3. Be a President of the conservative, the liberal, the independent and anyone else who is blessed to be an American.

4. Tell you the truth, even when it makes me look bad.

I ask you to give me a chance to use what I have learned. Thank you for your trust.

Another offering:

My name is Mitt Romney. I want to be President of the United States. I have no experience in this job. I have lived a full life. I have a collective understanding of business and commerce, discovered through my work,  family and adult journey. I am rich. It doesn’t make me better. It also doesn’t make me the enemy. I understand that when you are given much, much is required of you. I realize that I will be taking what I have experienced and using it the best I can, while learning how to be a good President. I will need help–not because I am helpless; it’s just that some of the assistance will need to come from Republicans, Democrats, independents and Americans of all types. I will need to listen to all of these voices because they are you. I will:

1. Abandon all bad choices and pursue the path that is fruitful.

2. Listen to all people who actually want to help the country, no matter what affiliation or what party.

3. Be a President of the conservative, the liberal, the independent and anyone else who is blessed to be an American.

4. Tell you the truth, even when it makes me look bad.

Thank you for your time. I can’t promise you an easy solution–I can tell you that we will be able to do this together. I will bring all I know and a heart to learn more. Thank you for your trust.

The pundits would not like with these two speeches. They would insist that showing vulnerability is displaying weakness, and since they believe that politics is a jungle, that such openness would turn a candidate into a lame antelope instead of a roaring lion. Maybe they’re right. But see–we don’t know. There is no way to be sure, because no one has ever had the guts and determination to stay faithful to the understandable truth throughout an entire campaign. I will tell you this–without a heart filled with simplicity and a humble spirit, the responsibility of guiding human beings is carried out by a fool instead of a righteous king.

Two speeches–it is my offering for today. I guess my only counsel to you would be that the more you hear of these admissions from which ever candidate, the better prepared he will be for the inevitable struggle of leadership.

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WDJD… May 20, 2012

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I said yes. I like to say yes, mainly because “no” demands too much of an explanation and makes you sound like you are hem-hawing around instead of being forthright and honest.

A lady at a church, a teacher at the local high school, asked me if I would be willing to come and speak for an assembly of the student body the following morning after my concert. She had taken the initiative to arrange it, so I had no reason to say no.

I do not consider myself to be a great spokesman to young humans–but by the same token, I don’t despise them or find it difficult to communicate once  I get over my own fears and preconceptions. Long story shortened (to allow for you to maintain your attention)  I arrived at the school and was greeted by a young lady who was to be my hostess. She carried that timidity common to the adolescent of our species. I noticed that she was wearing a WWJD bracelet. So I commented.

“Oh, I see you have a WWJD bracelet. Are you a Christian?”

“Well, kinda,” she replied sheepishly. “Actually, my grandma gave it to me along with a little booklet about what it means. Honestly, I haven’t read it yet.”

I decided not to pursue the conversation any further. The WWJD fad really didn’t last too long–mainly because it did become more of a jewelry accessory rather than a spiritual odyssey, and secondly, because most people don’t know what Jesus would do because they are so ingrained in their own personal cultures that they color the purity of that spiritual quest with their own upbringing. So I waited for my instructions concerning the assembly.

Well, things began to fall apart, as they often do whenever you enter the realm of public education. The principal came out and apologized, saying that a full assembly would be impossible because there was testing going on. I listened quietly. He said he had arranged for the drama, speech and music departments to gather in the auditorium to hear me share about the power of inspiration in entertainment. I thanked him for his courtesy and awaited the opportunity. About ten minutes later the principal reappeared and said that regrettably, the choir, music and drama departments would be unable to attend the lecture because they were preparing for an upcoming concert–BUT the speech classes were still very interested in hearing my inspiring talk.

I nodded my head. About three minutes later, the secretary arrived (the principal apparently too embarrassed to attend further) and she said the speech department was going to be unable to hear me, because they needed to rehearse for a debate to be held at a rival school. By this time I was giggling inside, wondering exactly who I would end up speaking to, or if I was just starting my day early to make me appreciate my afternoon nap.

About a half an hour later, I was escorted into the gymnasium, where, in a far corner of the bleachers, about six young women sat–students from a physical education class. They didn’t dress out that particular morning, because they were either sick or had forgotten their exercise clothes. They sat peering at me as the secretary gave me an overly elaborate introduction and unleashed me on these uninterested souls.

I realized at this point that I did not need to know what Jesus WOULD do, but instead, required an understanding of what Jesus DID do. What DID Jesus do when he was placed in a position where he was given lesser and lesser importance, ending up with an audience he did not anticipate or prepare for? You see, I had taken some time to study the school–understood their mascots and had even checked out their website for their sports schedules, to know the team records. At this point, in front of these six non-dressing gym students, this all seemed quite irrelevant.

What was NOT going to work was a typical human reaction based on ego–because every time we feel slighted, cheated, angry, frustrated, misunderstood or fussy, we are viewed as the villain, no matter how justified our reasoning may be. This was my audience, which had deteriorated from fifteen hundred promised students to six students–who didn’t seem to have much promise at all.

What did Jesus do when slapped in the face by reality? There’s a four-step process to understanding how Jesus communicated his message of love and faith to the world. It’s not hard to understand; it’s not difficult to grasp. The problem with religion and Christian theology is that it has a goal rather than a search. Every denomination is determined to promote its particular spin on godliness instead of  just studying the mind and personality of Jesus. Sitting in front of those six young ladies who were bored to death, I applied the Jesonian philosophy on human interaction.

1. Open the heart. You will never reach people spiritually, mentally and physically if you haven’t touched them emotionally. It is futile to reach for the brain or the soul if you haven’t first passed through the heart. Jesus was a heart teacher. If you have no emotion in your spiritual experience, you will have no soul to it, no renewing of the mind and therefore no physical evidence.

2. Tell a story. Anybody who believes they can communicate God by reading the Bible has lost all sense of reason. The communication of God has always been, and always will be, the sharing of a personal testimony from our own experience.  Everything else sounds like jumbled words from a former time written by Shakespeare.

3. Use the earth. We are earthlings–and I don’t mean that in a science fiction sense. I mean that we are all inhabitants of earth. Therefore we understand earth and earth is our best source for communication. When you talk about heaven, the wrong people listen. People who are self-righteous. People who are trying to escape responsibility. People who are ethereal. People who want to condemn other people to hell by first talking about heaven. When you use the earth, every son and daughter of Adam who has ears can hear.

4. And finally, make God human. When Jesus told stories, God was portrayed as a Father, an owner of a vineyard, a king, a fisherman, and even a sower of seed. The true failure of religion is that it is obsessed with the notion of making humans godly–impossible–instead of taking the more logical path of making God more human.

I don’t have to wear a bracelet that says, “What would Jesus do?” I have isolated off the gospels and understand his modus operandi. So when I sat down in front of those six girls, instead of being upset, I opened my heart by telling them the funny story of how my day was going so far. I related about how that happened to great people everywhere–for example, that Abraham Lincoln was deemed to be a complete failure before history called him a success. I used the earth to connect with them about how it felt to be sitting there, not dressing out for gym class, and how when I write something like a movie, I look for anything that is common in order to connect with people. And then I made God human. I told them that I believed if God came to earth today and was looking for work, He would enter the entertainment field. I joked with them that He probably wouldn’t be an accountant–too many numbers. Certainly not a politician–they all laughed. God would make a horrible lawyer because he would always want to forgive the criminals. They especially liked that.

My morning finished triumphantly–although only in front of a half-dozen folk. I left the school with most people not knowing I was ever there, but I got a chance to make friends and impact six young ladies simply because I kept my cool instead of becoming prideful. And I used the magical power of what Jesus DID do–opening the heart, telling a story, using the earth and making God human.

   

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Part IV:He Is the Same … December 3, 2011

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Charlotte, North Carolina

Jesus marvels at faith.

And I’m not just talking about the kind of faith that is immediately linked with some belief in God. I’m talking about many kinds of faith–faith in humanity, faith in an idea, faith in oneself when it is well-balanced with factual humility. Jesus marveled at people who stepped out of their box and into a world of possibility–deciding to touch the hem of his garment, return to the home after being a prodigal, or screaming at the top of the lungs that they were sick and tired of being blind.  He always stopped in his tracks, smiled and shook his head in great admiration. This kind of faith is a beautiful combination of self-awareness with the passion to pursue the second mile that always gained the appreciation of Jesus–self-awareness in the sense of “this is who I really am, this is where I’m presently heading and this is an idea on how I can alter that course to more favorable conclusions.” Also, knowledge of where one is heading is simultaneously knowing that duplicating where others are going will curry you neither notice nor favor.

Yes, the wonderful blend of honesty with passion for the second mile always creates the kind of human adventure that Jesus envisioned for his friends and followers. He described that kind of faith as “a mere mustard seed.” After all, if we waited until we thought our faith was large enough to begin a task, no one would ever launch a dream. But a mustard seed was a tiny little thing with only one goal–to be planted. No seed is any good until it finds earth–and no human being has any quality until the feet are planted in the earth and they establish what they can and cannot do.

Then Jesus says that once the mustard seed is planted, we need to gain voice–to say to the mountains of our lives, “Be removed.” Yes, to simply and quietly plant your seed is not enough if it isn’t followed by you telling the mountains in your path that they must go. We need a speech. Sometimes we need to rehearse it, like the prodigal son did when he returned to his father. Sometimes the words come from the Spirit–as Jesus said would happen in the hour when we most need it. But we need to gain words to coincide with our planning–and those words need to make it clear to the world and to obstructions in our lives that we mean for them to go.

And finally, Jesus says that if your mustard seed  is planted and you gain voice, there’s only one thing that remains: don’t doubt in your heart. Be clean emotionally about it. Most people fail because they do not give a report of the totality of their feelings before they begin to march off to do warfare. Your heart matters. Any time you try to work beyond your feelings, you will find that in the hour of need your emotions will betray you.

Jesus marveled at faith because it blended two magnificent human attributes–a mustard seed of faith that speaks to mountains with no doubt in its heart and a complete awareness that merely performing the status quo will not get your head above water, but that a second mile is required.

There are many people who believe the Gospel is a message of grace. They think a mere acceptance of God’s gift of salvation guarantees an eternal security and more or less an earthly bodyguard which prevents us from falling into any kind of damnation or even irrevocable difficulty. The only problem with that doctrine is that it doesn’t jive with the teachings of Jesus. Jesus did not come to make serfs who worship the king in the castle. Jesus came to teach servants how to master their lives.

  • I am a mustard seed. I must be planted.
  • There will be mountains that need to be removed.
  • I will gain voice to speak to the mountains.
  • I will not doubt in my heart.

Anything short of this kind of powerful living renders us at the mercy of circumstances instead of making us “more than conquerors.” Jesus marvels at faith because it makes human beings believe that mustard seeds, when planted, can give us speech to remove mountains because we don’t doubt in our hearts.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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